Malayan Credit Ltd v Jack Chia-MPH Ltd [1986] AC 549

Key point

  • Where joint legal tenants are commercial parties, property is presumed to be held in tenancy in common in equity


  • Two companies, C and D, agreed to lease a building floor for use as business premises jointly in law, with specific areas allocated to each
  • C and D paid rent, service charge, stamp duty and survey fees in unequal shares, D also invoiced C for its share in the deposit
  • C sought the sale of lease and equal division of proceeds or alternatively equal partition
  • The Court of Appeal of Singapore held that C and D were joint tenants in equity and each was entitled to equal shares of the proceeds

Held (Privy Council)

  • Appeal allowed; the lease was held in tenancy in common in equity and in unequal shares

Lord Brightman

  • Where there are joint tenants in law there are joint tenants in equity if there are no circumstances indicating the contrary
  • However, it was improbable that joint tenancy in equity was intended where joint tenants in law held commercial premises for their separate business purposes as it is unlikely that one party intends their property to pass on to the other renter when he dies
  • Cases where joint tenants at law are presumed to be tenants in common in equity are not limited to purchasers who contribute unequally to the purchase price or mortgage, or where the parties are business partners
  • In the current case, the unequal payment of rent and service charge and other costs, similar to the unequal payment of purchase price in a transaction for sale, pointed to an unequal share in the lease
Concurrent interests cases
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